John 15

This chapter has more content than we can possibly cover with a blog comment.  But then again, what chapter doesn’t?   Jesus is the vine, and we are the branches
The theme here is thriving.  In order to thrive we must do several things: 1. allow the Holy Spirit to prune us 2. Remain within Christ.
This pruning isn’t done without our permission.  In fact, it cannot take place at all unless we are involved.  There is a partnership relationship between Christ and the individual which makes it a little different from the vine.  I see it this way:  The vine has no say in how it is trimmed or pruned.  It cannot refuse or protest.  We however, can do both of those things.  Therefore, pruning for us looks more like the Master Gardener telling us what to cut from our vine, and then we have to agree and obey.  What the Master wants trimmed away may not make immediate sense…especially if we are young and inexperienced gardeners ourselves.   Jesus knows what to look for and what to trim out early and we often don’t.   The second part is just as important: we must remain in connection with Jesus in order to be fruitful.  
The power that flows through the Godhead is singular and shared among the three manifestations of God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  If we leave the relationship in which the power of God is circulating, we will not be able to access it, and so we won’t be able to accomplish anything of substance.   There is another power out there, the dark power that the devil apparently has and uses.  I don’t profess to understand it, or how he has any power at all…since all power and authority are God’s and His alone.  Why God has chosen to allow the devil to have access to some power, however briefly, is a subject for further discussion at another time.  Suffice to say that God will one day strip all power from satan, and cast him into hell where there is no power available at all.  At that time, everything will be restored to perfect in the universe.
Pruning takes place when we allow God to change our attitudes, thoughts and behaviors.  Actually, that process begins with thoughts and ends with behaviors.  All change begins in the mind, and God is continually renewing our minds.   Recently I was reminded that experiences can work for or against this process. ie: the recent scare concerning the Coronavirus has shaped the way people think.  I’m not saying that the change is wrong, just that our experience has changed our thoughts.    Here’s the issue I have with that:  did any of us go to God and ask what we should be thinking about the virus?  We probably prayed that the virus would go away and not harm anyone else (I know I prayed that).  We may have prayed for strength or for the church to thrive during the pandemic…but how often do we actually take our experiences directly to God, lay them at His feet and say “What do you want me to think about this”?    I’m going to make a conscious effort to begin doing that, since God is in charge of my thoughts, not experiences. 
I don’t want to allow experiences to prune and shape me, that privilege belongs to Christ alone.
In His service,